When it came to understanding the mind of young boys, G.A. Henty seemed to have a finger on their pulse.
This prolific writer spent a lifetime creating books that would lure in the imagination of boys — and then leave them wanting a lot more. He understood what it meant to draw in the reader from the first page and take them to the end … without skipping a beat.
Henty’s books impacted my sons as they were growing up, so I wanted to see what sort of man he was. Here are four interesting things you may not have known about him:
1. His poor health as a boy played a role in his love of books. One of the reasons that Henty understood the art of captivating young boys with adventure stories was due to his own love of reading. And he was reading a lot because of poor health. As a young child, Henty was always in and out of hospitals. Due to his poor health, He was not able to get outside as much and and enjoy playtime with the other kids. Often he had to stay inside, so to keep himself amused he would dive into adventure books. This mindset would continue into his later years, and he developed a wide variety of interests that grew from his inquisitiveness.
2. Henty went off to the Crimean War with the British army. His time working in the military hospital allowed him to spend time listening to the stories that came from the soldiers recuperating. The things he personally observed and the tales from the wounded added to his engaging mind. When he wrote letters home, Henty always scripted them with a flourish for the illustrative. His correspondences never went to England as simple letters to the parents, but were always colored with a flair for the descriptive.
3. He was a great oral storyteller, too. Friends and family always were amazed how this enigmatic gentleman could draw you in through his oral stories. At the dinner table, Henty would relate stories to his children that kept them spellbound.
4. Many of the characters in his books were inspired by his own children. His kids were incredibly important to his writings, especially in his early years of being an author. For instance, the main characters in one of his first books, Out On The Pampas, were named after his children. The reviews and sales of this book were impressive, and Henty’s career and status as a writer was firmly established.
As a father and grandfather, I really appreciate the fact that my own family reads books that teach value and virtue. Henty never compromised the story value for the monetary value, and his books taught morals and biblical truths. Maybe that is one of the reasons Henty and his books are timeless.